What is the best treatment for a sprain in the foot and ankle?
One of the most common sports injuries the experienced and trusted surgical team sees at our OrthoBethesda center in Arlington, Virginia is ankle pain and the diagnosis of an ankle sprain. This injury and the associated ankle pain is so common that you don’t have to be playing a sport or exercising for it to occur. Simply walking around your home, taking your dog for a walk, or climbing the stairs at work can cause you to suffer an ankle sprain. An ankle sprain happens when the ligaments that support the ankle are either torn or become stretched too far.
Soft tissues and ligaments in the ankle are there to prevent incorrect movement that could lead to the foot suffering abnormal movements. When someone rolls, turns, or twists their foot or leg in the wrong way, it can lead to a lot of ankle pain and even a sprain. However, the ligaments and soft tissues can help prevent the foot from going beyond its normal range of motion.
Causes of Foot and Ankle Sprains
Foot and ankle sprains occur when there is an inverted or sudden inward movement of the foot during activity. This includes playing sports, walking, running, or moving around on an uneven surface. Ankle sprains happen because a patient fell or because a patient suffered sudden force against the ankle. This leads to the ankle moving beyond its normal range of motion. The ligament of the ankle will likely suffer damage that requires surgery, rest, therapy, or other treatment methods.
Ankle Sprain Symptoms
An ankle sprain will often lead to pain, swelling, stiffness of the ankle, and bruising in the area of the ankle. You will also have trouble putting weight on the foot impacted. You will have difficulty with range of motion and mobility.
Ankle Sprain Grading
Ankle sprains are assigned different grades based on the severity of the injury and the damage to the area.
- Grade 1 sprain: a mild ankle sprain with a little bit of damage to the ligaments
- Grade 2 sprain: a moderate ankle sprain with the ligament partially torn
- Grade 3 sprain: a severe ankle sprain with the ligament completely torn
Diagnosis of Ankle Pain
In order to diagnose an ankle sprain, a specialist from our OrthoBethesda center will need to conduct a physical examination of your body. This winds up being a very painful appointment because the foot and ankle specialist will need to move the foot in various directions. X-rays will be taken to determine the extent of the damage to the ankle and if Achilles tendonitis is present. The doctor will assign a grade to your sprain based on the results of the x-rays, the bruising present, and the damage to the ligaments.
Treatment for a Sprain
The amount of time it takes for your foot and ankle injury to heal depends on the severity of the injury. Every injury to the foot, ankle, or leg area should be treated using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to help prevent swelling.
If the injury is graded between 2 and 3, your doctor might prescribe the following treatment methods:
- Immobilization: use of a splint or cast to immobilize the foot so it can heal on its own
- Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin to prevent swelling and reduce your pain
- Physical Therapy: Range of motion exercises help strengthen the foot and ankle and help to alleviate ankle pain as much as possible
Patients don’t often require surgery because of an ankle sprain. However, surgery may be an option if the sprain is a Grade 3 and the ligament was completely torn. If the ankle injury is serious, a qualified and trusted doctor will conduct an ankle arthroscopy in the OrthoBethesda center to determine the amount of damage, the cause of the injury, and the repairs needed in your foot/ankle.
Schedule a Consultation in Arlington, Virginia, Today
If you have suffered an injury involving your ankle while playing sports, out for a walk, or taking part in any other daily activity, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with a foot or ankle specialist immediately. Our specialists can treat different foot and ankle conditions. If you are having pain with your foot or ankle, the sooner the cause and location of the injury can be diagnosed, the quicker you can receive the proper care in our Arlington office. Call our office at (301) 530-1010 to schedule your appointment today.